Reading for the summer season – RECEC on Summer break!

Research about ECEC-blog began to publish Finnish research in English from the beginning of 2021. We have now had five blog texts since the beginning of the year, including Marika Matengu (January), Heidi Chydenius, Annukka Pursi and Lasse Lipponen (February), Jouni Veijalainen (March) Juliene Madureire Ferreira (April) and Johanna Heikka (May).

Kirjat, Pino, Kirjallisuus, Tietoa
Picture: Pixabay

Maria Matengu’s text on January is about the meaning of belonging in early childhood

Belonging is at the core of human development: connectedness with others holds our humanity together; it protects us from danger and is foundational for development that makes humans differ from any other living species on earth.”

Read more on her blog: ”In adversity the sense of belonging becomes critical in ECEC”

Heidi Chydenius, Annukka Pursi  and Lasse Lipponen wrote a text in February about  being a child at the time of covid-19 pandemic.

Children especially missed their friends and playing with them, but also longed for the ECEC centers’ adults, and center as a space and a place.”

Read more on their blog: ”What is it like to be a child in times of the COVID -19 pandemic?

Jouni Veijanen’s text on March is about childrens emotions and selfregulation (and how to support them!).

The results indicate, the better the self-regulation children have, the more they express positively related emotions. For example, the children with good self-regulation expressed clearly more emotions of happiness, joy, and contentedness.”

Read more on his blog: ” Emotions and self-regulation in the Finnish early childhood education and care”

Juliene Madureire Ferreira wrote a text in April about inclusion and collaboration of children.

Collaborative learning is, however, fundamentally different from other types of social interaction because it demands children to share their understanding of the activity, negotiate their intentions and coordinated their actions synchronously; it demands that children establish joint intentions”

Read more on her blog: ”Changing the way we see and understand collaboration to promote inclusion in Early Childhood Education and Care”

Jahanna Heikka’s texts in May is about pedagogigal leadership.

” Lack of support at the national level can harm leaders and teachers’ capabilities to find intact leadership identity and can cause insecurity of implementing leadership roles in ECE settings.”

Read more on her blog: ”Distributed pedagogical leadership for quality early childhood education”

Flowers, Child, Girl, Dandelion, Field

RECEC will continue in August after a well-deserved summer break!

 We would like to thank all the writers for their work and wish a great summer holiday to everyone!


Distributed pedagogical leadership for quality early childhood education

GuestPen by Johanna Heikka, PhD, University of Eastern Finland

Effective leadership has a positive impact on ECE quality and promotes children’s learning, development, and well-being (Douglass, 2019; Melhuis et al. 2006; Sylva et al. 2010). Thus, while the significance of leadership for quality is widely documented through research, the current national policy in Finland is undeveloped in conceptualizing and supporting the conditions for effective ECE leadership. There is limited guidance available on the processes through which leadership influences the achievement of the goals of ECE. The issues concerning quality of ECE provision should be addressed from a systemic perspective, including ECE stakeholders such as ECE teachers and parents, and leaders as well as government officials as leadership stakeholders in quality provisioning for the benefit of children. It is proposed that effective steering and leadership, especially distributed forms of leadership, in ECE is fundamental to the creation of high-quality services (Alila et al. 2013; Douglass, 2019; Rodd 2006).

Leadership for quality in ECE demands the implementation of distributed pedagogical leadership as a strategy for development. Distributed pedagogical leadership is understood as the interdependence between the micro and macro level leadership enactments in pedagogical development (Heikka, 2014). Leadership for quality includes the idea that the responsibility is shared between the ECE stakeholders  (Heikka et al. 2019; Hujala, Fonsèn, & Elo, 2012; Douglass, 2019). Earlier findings indicate that leadership influences quality especially through teacher leadership (Douglass, 2019). Contemporary research suggests that distributed forms of leadership can assist in reaching the goals set for ECE by fostering curriculum development in ECE settings, enhancing the professional development of ECE staff and supporting pedagogical development and thereby improving the pedagogical functioning of multi-professional staff teams (Heikka et al. 2013; Waniganayake et al. 2015).

Jatka lukemista ”Distributed pedagogical leadership for quality early childhood education”

This month in our GuestPen Johanna Heikka

Johanna Heikka, PhD, works as a University lecturer at the School of Applied Educational Science and Teacher Education at the University of Eastern Finland. Her research interests focus on leadership, quality, and pedagogical development in early childhood education. Her recent publications focus mainly on distributed pedagogical leadership and teacher leadership as well as pedagogy in early childhood education. Johanna is Adjunct Professor in leadership in early childhood education at University of Oulu since 2020. She is a leader of the leadership development projects and research groups in Finland and internationally. Johanna is the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Early Childhood Education Research (JECER) and the leader of the International Leadership Research Forum (ILRF). In her blog, Johanna brings together the latest research on distributed pedagogical leadership and suggest that leadership should be argued more clearly in steering documents at national level in Finland.

Changing the way we see and understand collaboration to promote inclusion in Early Childhood Education and Care

GuestPen by Juliene Madureira Ferreira, PhD, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Education and Culture – Tampereen Yliopisto

Marja*, a 3 years-old girl with intellectual disability, and Petri, a 4 years-old boy with typical development are placed as partners for building blocks. Petri starts playing by assembling the first pieces, while Marja observes. Petri talks to Marja, asking what is she going to do; Marja continues to observe silently. Petri assembles a few pieces, and pretends they are heroes from a story; he shows the toy to Marja, gestures in front of her, and looks at her for a few seconds. Marja looks at Petri attentively but silently, and a few seconds later gives him one of the building blocks. Petri looks at the piece of toy, stops pretending and looks at her. Moments later he complains to the teacher saying that playing with Marja is boring and he wants another partner. The teacher guides Petri to go back to the toys (puts her hand on his shoulder and turns his body back to the playing area); she explains that it’s his turn to play with Marja and that she is his partner for the time being. Petri and the teacher argue for a few moments, but in the end, Petri is placed in another group and Marja gets to play with an adult.

What you see in this scene is an ordinary situation where children are not sure how to work together; there are different expectations on how playing is and on how to do the activity. Beyond encouraging children to do the task together, the teacher needs to support them to understand each other. For that, the teacher itself needs to recognize signs of engagement and through such signs support children to build coordination through other ways than dialogue; the teacher must support the development of certain skills that are important for establishing social relations. Does this seem like a simple task? It is certainly not! So, when thinking about these situations, what is it that we should know to be able to promote such development? Should teachers’ intervention be directed to the child with disabilities or the peer? Isn’t it enough to promote opportunities for children to be together? Have we reached a conclusion of what is the best approach to promote the participation of children with disabilities, or any other educational support for this matter, in ECEC? These are just some of the questions that are often raised by educators in a similar situation.

Jatka lukemista ”Changing the way we see and understand collaboration to promote inclusion in Early Childhood Education and Care”

This month in our GuestPen Juliene Madureira Ferreira

The next blog text is written by Juliene Madureira Ferreira who works as an assistant professor (tenure track) in the faculty of education and culture at Tampere University. She holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology and a PhD in Education, both crossing the field of Inclusive Education in Early Childhood Education and Care, and has worked as an educational psychologist for eight years in the department of psychology of the teacher training school at the Federal University of Uberlândia in Brazil. In her postdoctoral studies she investigated the sociability and the construction of collaboration in different interactive situations, such as among children with disabilities and children with typical development in early childhood education, and among students in upper secondary schools in Brazil, Chile and Finland. In her current studies, collaboration has been investigated under an embodied perspective, which evidences the non-verbal communication as an essential structure of intersubjectivity, and incorporating physiological data into the analysis of social interactions.

Jatka lukemista ”This month in our GuestPen Juliene Madureira Ferreira”

Emotions and self-regulation in the Finnish early childhood education and care

GuestPen by Jouni Veijalainen

Self-regulation plays a fundamental role in children’s holistic wellbeing

In this text, I aim to highlight children’s observed emotional expressions by their gender. I will demonstrate how children’s self-regulation connects with their emotional expressions in the setting of Finnish early childhood education and care (ECEC). Self-regulation is a child’s ability to adjust his/her own emotions, behaviour, cognitive functions. it is viewed as a strength which enables the child to regulate frustrating situations and his/her attention properly (Ayduk et al., 2000; Aro, 2011, p. 10). Developing self-regulation in early childhood has been connected to wellbeing in later years where success in everyday social relations, adaptive behaviour, studying, health and work is at issue (Degnan, Calkins, Keane & Hill-Soderlund, 2008; Moffitt et al., 2011; Lengua, Honorado & Bush, 2007; Eisenberg et al., 2003; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2003; Ylvisaker et al., 2008, p. 410). Supporting young children’s emotional wellbeing and self-regulation creates a favorable pathway towards holistic child development (e.g. Shonkoff et al., 2012). Shared positive emotional experiences between children and adults as well, play a fundamental role in the development of emotional and social wellbeing. This emphasises the importance of constructing common understanding of shared emotional experiences among ECEC personnel (Bagdi et al., 2005). In addition, understanding how self-regulation, as a mental ability, supports children’s external behavior, is valuable information to ECEC personnel.

Jatka lukemista ”Emotions and self-regulation in the Finnish early childhood education and care”

This month in our GuestPen Jouni Veijalainen

The next blog text is written by Dr. Jouni Veijalainen who is working at the University of Helsinki in the Faculty of Educational Sciences. He is passionate for training early childhood education personnel, teachers, parents and several other parties around child development and care.

In his blog text, Veijalainen discusses the importance of supporting children in ECEC  to develop skills in self-regulating their own emotions and highlights the way in which girls and boys express their emotions differently in ECEC. Veijalainen writes: “It is very important that boys will have opportunities to express and feel positive emotions in ECEC. What kind of arrangements and pedagogy will take account of that?”

What is it like to be a child in times of the COVID -19 pandemic?

GuestPen by Heidi Chydenius, Annukka Pursi and Lasse Lipponen

The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into both economic and social crises, and brought new kinds of concerns (Berinato, 2020) not only for adults, but for many small children in institutional early childhood education as well (Chydenius, Pursi & Lipponen, 2020). In spring 2020, The Finnish government decided to keep ECEC centers in operation, but parents were recommended to keep their children at home, if possible. The reason for keeping ECEC centers open was to ensure that parents  in societally critical industries, like healthcare were able to continue working  (Government 16.3.2020).  The government’s recommendation was followed by parents rather faithfully, and most of the children stayed at home, while only a few continued in institutional early childhood education centers. In many cases, the number of children in municipal ECEC centers fell to a quarter of its usual (Ministry of Education and Culture, 7.4.2020).

Concerns were raised in the media over the possible short- and long-term consequences of the isolation of children. However, the stories the newspapers published mainly focused on how to interpret the guidelines imposed by the government, and how to organize early childhood services during and after the COVID -19-pandemic (Elonen, HS 17.3.2020; Hiilamo, HS 16.3.2020; Nalbantoglu, HS 18.3.2020).  The voice of young children, and their ways of experiencing and verbalizing the times of COVID -19 were almost completely absent from public discussion. There were, however, some exceptions, such as the blog post by the Central Union for Child Welfare (4.5.2020). They were one of the first to write about children’s fears and confusion, even though  their central message was how to support parents in their parenting during the pandemic. Not until at the end of May, the media started to write about children’s experiences (Furu et al., 2020; Kallionpää, HS 25.5.2020; Parikka, HS 24.5.2020; Tiessalo, YLE 22.5.2020), but still focusing mainly on parents’ parenting practices and how they were coping.

According to Hilppö, Rainio, Rajala, and Lipponen (2020), in the media, Finnish children have been positioned during the pandemic in three different ways: a) as vulnerable and relatively passive recipients of care and protection, b) as thriving in non-school settings, and c) as agentic actors capable of acting upon and transforming their circumstances. In the case of children under school age, children were positioned primarily as recipients of adult care and protection. From the point of view of hearing the voices of children, one of the most important questions remained unaddressed: “What is it like to be a child during the corona pandemic?”.

Jatka lukemista ”What is it like to be a child in times of the COVID -19 pandemic?”

This month in the GuestPen: Heidi Chydenius, Annukka Pursi and Lasse Lipponen

The next blog text of RECEC will be published on the 24th of February by Heidi Chydenius, Annukka Pursi and Lasse Lipponen.

Heidi Chydenius is a project coordinator in the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. She is currently working in the TUKE, Developing Internship ECEC centers initiative that aims to develop and strengthen early childhood education teaching practice at the University of Helsinki.

Annukka Pursi is a postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. Her research involves using video data to analyse very young children’s social interactions, and teacher-child pedagogical interactions. Currently, she is interested in children’s emotions, such as separation anxiety, longing for and missing, in social interaction.

Lasse Lipponen is professor of education, with special reference to early childhood education, at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. He is an experienced principal investigator, who is an expert in cultural-historical theory, and exploring human interaction with observational methods. Recently, he has been interested in understanding compassion, and grief in ECEC.

This blog text explores what it is like to be a child during the COVIC-19 pandemic. 

”The COVID-19 pandemic has plunged the world into both economic and social crises, and brought new kinds of concerns (Berinato, 2020) not only for adults, but for many small children in institutional early childhood education as well. From the point of view of hearing the voices of children one of the most important questions remained unaddressed: ”What is it like to be a child during the corona pandemic?

In adversity the sense of belonging becomes critical in ECEC

GuestPen by Marika Matengu

The social distancing brought by corona and the season of Christmas that normally brings early childhood education and care (ECEC) communities and families together, has made me ponder the sense of belonging as one key aspect of ECEC. The issue that I want to reflect in the light of literature and my doctoral research is the sense of belonging in contexts where adversity and transitions between familiar and unknown characterize children’s lives. I want to focus on ECEC settings which include minoritized children whose sociocultural backgrounds differ from the majority (see e.g. Souto-Manning & Rabadi-Raol, 2018). Though my research is based on data from rural Namibia, I believe the issue of belonging is relevant to ECEC globally. I hope to discuss and give some ideas for those who want to connect with children and families especially in adversity and difficult times we currently experience.

Photo by Gabby K on
Jatka lukemista ”In adversity the sense of belonging becomes critical in ECEC”